Power Girl Lectures Women for Complaining About Her Costume
It’s hardly breaking news that there have been complaints over the years about both the ample assets of DC superheroine Power Girl and her costume — specifically the oval cutout that sits directly over her cleavage. Some female readers have taken issue with the high cheesecake factor, some writers have tried to explain the costume in a way that makes it more than eye candy, but overall it pretty much is what it is (boobs).
Now Esther Inglis-Arkell at 4th Letter has pointed out something a bit new: A scene in the recent “JSA 80-Page Giant” #1 (scripted by female author Jen Van Meter) where Power Girl actually appears to lecture female readers for complaining about her costume.
Let me say right up front that I don’t have anything against metafiction (or boobs, really?). Grant Morrison has pretty much made a career out of doing it right (metafiction, not boobs), and while there are love/hate camps about the whole new level of meta that Geoff Johns has been exploring with Superboy Prime, I am firmly ensconced on the side of love.
But it’s better if you think about it as an advanced maneuver — a narrative triple axel, of sorts, that should only be attempted when you really know what you’re doing, lest you end up looking horribly clumsy and falling on your butt.
Because this — this is not good.
As Inglis-Arkell explains, the third panel is where things really get interesting, and by interesting I mean supremely irritating:
I’ve never read about many female characters giving her a hard time in the comics . . . oh. Oh. That was meta. The ‘most women’ comment. The character looking out at us from the panel. This is a little speech given to the women who, for some crazy reason, criticize Peej’s uniform.
You know what, Jen Van Meter? Go write an op-ed. I’m not even being sarcastic. You’re entitled to your opinion about Power Girl’s costume, and if you’d like to explain to the female readership about how they’re totally misunderstanding the personal empowerment and meaningful symbolism offered by the cleavage window, then I would be very interested in reading about that.
But quite sincerely: Do not lecture me when I’m in the middle of reading a superhero comic about why you think I’m reading it wrong. Or at the very least, write a scene well enough so I don’t feel like you’re lecturing me, because there are few things more disruptive to a narrative experience than watching the writer peek around the curtain and set up a teleprompter for the characters.
I already suspend my disbelief to ridiculous proportions for superhero comics, so watching someone manipulate Power Girl like a highly articulated action figure specifically to give me the stink eye pretty much destroys any sense of authenticity that exists for the story, the character, or the world. It makes me feel like I’m watching a Very Special Episode about why I should shut up, and for reasons that I think are obvious, that’s not very fun.
It also comes off as incredibly defensive and contrived to try so very hard to explain away something that something that quite frankly doesn’t need any explanation, except for boobs.
If anyone is seriously unclear about the explanation for Power Girl’s costume, allow me to help you out: